Why does Kurtz steal the Russian adventurer’s small bundle of ivory? Because he can. He’ll kill the Russian fellow. There is no law to stop him. Kurtz is his own law.
Power is heady stuff. You can feel powerful when you have limitless money, military power, personal strength, beauty, talent, or whatnot. You’re unstoppable.
Until your mortality catches you. For some, it’s cancer. For others, it’s addiction. But most of the time when people are brought to their knees, they try keep up pretenses, to project the image. To admit their weakness would be to relinquish power. For many, the illusion of power is what keeps them from seeking God.
Kurtz is broken by sickness — it was something out of his control. Only then does he come to terms with what power has made him. In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Kurtz is the renegade trader deep in Africa who goes native, becomes a chieftain, raids villages to steal ivory and accepts satanic worship to himself. He has heads on stakes outside his hut to inspire fear in “rebels.”
For someone who began with high ideals of bringing civilization to the Dark Continent, his devolution into savagery shows what can happen to any human heart that lacks restraint.
“The horror! The horror!” he utters on the boat going downstream, as he remembers that he is a European and that he he has become a savage. He never makes it back. Kurtz dies on the boat.
We like to feel power. To feel helpless is to feel despair.
All humans are basically helpless — despite our much vaunted human achievement — and we need God.
Posted in Christianity, Heart of Darkness, power
Tagged Africa, Faith, helplessness, inspiration, ivory, Jesus, Joseph Conrad, Kurtz, philosophy, power, thoughts
I loathe bad books. I drop them if the first paragraph is bad. On the other hand, I can re-read a good book seven times. I ponder it, extract its life’s lessons and determine to be a better person. I marvel at ambiguity, subtlety and irony, not infantile didacticism.
My 10th grade lit class just finished Heart of Darkness. The poor kids struggled through, but by the end, the light went on, and I hope they are better persons for it. The other grade read Ender’s Game, an easy book but also with some powerful truths. So far this year, the kids have studied Romeo & Juliet and Homer.
But there is one book whose literature remains unequaled. If Shakespeare is the uncontested king of English literature, this book is the universal emperor. It is the Bible.
You can re-read it all your life, and it will never lack depth. It will never cease to spout truths about human nature. It doesn’t gloss heroes’ despicable lapses. It belongs to the realism genre. It belongs to most every genre. Every classical author alludes to it, detractors feel the need to discredit it — and that’s not bad because on-going research eventually answers their criticism and shores up its validity. Attacking the Bible is flattery.
The worst thing you could do is ignore it.
Repressive regimes ban it. We have a free society (thank God!). We can freely read it without the government looking over our shoulder. While others long to pry open its pages, we leave — it would seem — long to conform to repression. We leave them shut.
In addition to holding keys to wisdom, this book also holds the key to eternal life. Thank you for reading my blog! Won’t you take a moment to read God’s blog (the Bible)?
Posted in Christian, inspiration
Tagged Bible, Biblical criticism, classical literature, didacticism, Enders-Game, Englsih literature, Heart of Darkness, Homer, Joseph Conrad, Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare